Resogun Review

By Shawn Collier on December 18, 2013

Housemarque's Resogun, even from its initial announcement, had a lot of hype surrounding it because the studio previously created the critically acclaimed Super Stardust series. Like its predecessor, Resogun is a shoot-em-up, but instead of the spherical movement found in Super Stardust it uses a cylindrical wrap-around approach. So does this new approach retread old ground or has the developer created a new approach to the twin-stick shooter?

If you've played a twin-stick shoot-em-up before, you'll be right at home in Resogun. One stick controls the ship while the other controls the aiming for your weapons. This gives you a large degree of control and it's extremely useful as you evade both debris scattered around the screen, but also enemies which can come from either side of the cylinder. In addition, since Resogun takes place in a world where aliens are taking the last of humanity, you need to defeat special enemies called "keepers" which are holding the humans captive. These rescued humans can then be dropped off at ports for extra score bonuses and power perks such as bombs or extra lives.

The key feature of Resogun is the ability to collect the green voxels that appear when enemies are defeated. After collecting enough of them you can activate an "overdrive" ability which can be used both offensively and defensively. The latter approach can be used simply to get out of harm's way, but more advanced players can use the former approach to blast through enemies, something which also gives the added bonus of filling up the the same meter. It means that while it may seem simple, the "overdrive" mechanic has quite a bit of depth and although it's not required to get through the game, it's a nice touch for players who want to up their game.

As far as the stages go, each of the game's five stages is made up of three distinct phases. At the end, there is also a boss battle to cap things off. The bosses themselves are quite large as the top of the cylinder actually expands to fully fit them in. The fights are interesting as they take the projectile evading knowledge from earlier in the stages to the next level. You will have all manners of projectiles are thrown at you, although a few of the bosses are a bit too easy as they allow you to simply boost to win. Still, it presents a great challenge and a wonderful visual treat at the same time, especially considering the game runs in full HD at 60fps. And to cap things off, following the defeat of the stage's boss the stage itself blows up in slow motion as the player's ship escapes.

This also applies aurally as the developers intertwined the audio with the sounds for scores and bonus prompts. This makes it feel like a whole package, instead of extra sound effects added to the mix similar to games like Rez. There's nothing quite like a musical score that adapts to your actions.

Resogun's scoring system works by increasing the multiplier following successive kills, so for advanced players it becomes more of a game of waiting for enemies to fill the screen instead of shooting whatever moves. A shoot-em-up is only as good as the enemies it throws at you, so seeing Housemarque putting in the effort to cater to both types of players is testament to the prowess of the developers. That isn't to say beginners will have it easy, though, as the game expects you to die a few times before you learn the ropes.

In terms of depth, the game is a bit short, but the developer did add higher difficulties and online-only co-op which rebalances things for two players. The only issue with the co-op is that the lives weren't increased, so unless both players know what they're doing it'll lead to some frustration when an advanced player ends up with a beginner.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Resogun is a brief, but rewarding twin-stick shoot-em-up that doesn't overstay its welcome and has that next-gen feel graphically --- what we'd expect from a launch title. It's addictive gameplay and fine-tuned mechanics make for a satisfying time when trying to get to the top of the leaderboard.

Not too difficult for newcomers, but enough extra features for the advanced players to learn.
The music and graphics work wonderfully in tandem with one another.
It's short but doesn't overstay its welcome.
A few bosses can be easily beaten merely by spamming.
Online-only co-op doesn't rebalance the lives to cater for two players.
Might be a too short for those who aren't fans of leaderboards.
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